Recipe: Mexican Cabbage Soup
Metabolism is determined by several factors that are largely out of your control, including your genetics. However, you can boost your body's fat furnace by putting more of these metabolism-boosting foods on your plate. A healthy metabolism is the key to natural energy and an efficient way to torch calories without added effort.
Read More: Does Losing Weight Slow Your Metabolism?
Pictured Recipe: Baked Fish Tacos with Avocado
Your body spends more energy digesting protein-rich foods than it does carbs or fats. A high-protein diet, therefore, requires your body to expend more energy (read, burn more calories) and also increase your resting metabolic rate, or RMR.
In addition to this, protein-rich meals increase satiety, which can help you avoid overeating. Be careful with how much protein you're eating, however. More isn't better. Just like with any macronutrient, if you eat too much, the extra protein will be stored as fat.
Most of us do get enough protein throughout the day, but don't necessarily space it out. Aim to include a good source of protein at every meal and snack. Think eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts, lean meats and poultry, fish and beans.
Try These: Healthy High-Protein Recipes
Pictured Recipe: Black Bean, Mango & Kale Wheat Berry Salad
A study published in Food & Nutrition Research suggests that whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, demand more energy for digestion than processed foods, such as white bread or processed cheese. The research is very limited in this area.
However, a diet filled with whole foods is healthier for many other reasons. Eating whole foods can help you lose or maintain weight. Whole foods are naturally rich in fiber, so they fill you up without adding too many calories. Plus, these natural, unrefined foods deliver antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in processed foods.
Aim to fill half of your plate with vegetables or fruit and one quarter with whole grains at every meal. The other quarter can be saved for protein or dairy.
What you drink might give you a calorie-burning boost. Here's what science says about cold water, green tea and coffee. And remember to keep sugary beverages like soda and sweet tea to a minimum if you're trying to lose weight.
You have probably heard that drinking plenty of water helps you lose weight. That's in part because it may help temporarily boost your metabolism.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research found that water helps you increase your calorie burn through thermogenesis, or the process of heating your body. Since thermogenesis burns calories, drinking more cold water may boost your metabolism and fat-burning rate.
It's important to note there is very limited research in this area and drinking a glass of ice water won't replace a good sweat session at the gym, but it rarely hurts to drink more water than you already do. Replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water, for example, would cut down your calorie intake and keep you hydrated. That can reduce cravings and help you avoid excess snacking, too. That's a win-win even if the metabolism-boosting effects aren't substantial.
Read More: Healthy Strategies to Lose Weight Fast
Green tea contains several organic compounds, including caffeine, that may help your body burn calories and boost metabolism, and may aid in weight loss and weight management. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that green tea consumption can help you burn fat more efficiently when combined with moderate-intensity exercise.
However promising that may be, other research found that green tea does not have any significant effect on metabolism.
While we continue to investigate, it doesn't hurt to include green tea in your diet. A simple mug of hot brewed green tea can replace any sugar-laden midday coffee or energy drink you think you need to keep you awake post lunch. You'll cut down on calories and get a dose of healthy antioxidants that are good for you, even if they don't boost your metabolism.
Read More: Is Tea Good for Weight Loss?
Research suggests that caffeine has a metabolism-boosting impact so, like green tea, the caffeine in coffee could have calorie-burning properties, too.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that when caffeine and exercise are combined, a greater amount of fat is burned, and more calories are expended as a result. Drinking coffee or a caffeinated drink before exercise might be a good way to torch even more calories during your treadmill time.
However, avoid adding too much sugar to your coffee, which would negate the slight metabolism boost you get. And remember that experts recommend keeping it to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. That's about 6 ounces of espresso, 32 ounces of cold brew or 32 ounces of home-brewed drip coffee.
Keep Reading: 9 Rules to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee
Pictured recipe: White Turkey Chili
Studies suggest that capsaicin, an antioxidant in chile peppers (and also what makes them hot), increases the body's metabolic rate—albeit slightly.
While the metabolic boost you get by adding chiles to your diet isn't likely to melt away pounds, some research also suggests that capsaicin may stimulate brain chemicals in a way that helps you feel satisfied. And when you make your foods delicious with spices—instead of huge amounts of butter or cream—you'll also save calories.
Add a kick to foods like tacos, chilies and soups. Don't miss our spicy Mexican Cabbage Soup.
There is no magic bullet to speed up your metabolism. Exercise and building muscle helps, which is good motivation to get moving. These foods and drinks might also give you an edge when it comes to burning more calories, but nothing replaces sensible eating and exercise.